PUFAs Impact Antioxidant Defenses in Individuals At-Risk for Psychosis
In October 2015, researchers reported that supplementation with polyunsaturated fatty acids supports antioxidant defense systems (AODS) in subjects at risk for developing psychosis. Previous research indicates that oxidative stress and impaired antioxidant defenses play a role in schizophrenia, disrupts neurodevelopment, cause brain structural alteration and glutamatergic imbalances, and are associated with cognitive impairment. Furthermore, evidence suggests that oxidative stress predates the onset of acute psychotic illness.
The subjects included 64 individuals at ultra-high risk for developing psychosis between 13 to 25 years of age. They received 1.2 grams per day of omega-3 fatty acids plus 30.4 mg per day alpha-tocopherol (PUFA-E) or 1.2 grams per day saturated fatty acids plus 30.4 mg per day alpha-tocopherol (SFA-E) for 12 weeks. The researchers measured vitamin E and glutathione levels before and after the supplementation period.
Alpha-tocopherol and total glutathione levels did not differ between the two groups. Further analysis showed that only PUFA-E markedly increased alpha-tocopherol, while PUFA-E and SFA-E was associated with a significant decline in gamma-tocopherol and delta-tocopherol. Additionally, there was a decline in total glutathione (GSHt) levels in the PUFA-E group.
The researchers concluded, “Effects of the PUFA-E condition on the vitamin E and glutathione AODS could be mechanisms underlying its clinical effectiveness. In terms of the vitamin E protection system, PUFA-E seems to directly support the antioxidative defense at membrane level. The effect of PUFA-E on GSHt is not yet fully understood, but could reflect antioxidative effects, resulting in decreased demand for glutathione. It is still necessary to further clarify which type of PUFA/antioxidant combination, and in which dose, is effective at each stage of psychotic illness.”
Smesny S, et al. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2015;101:15-21